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Abbot Vitalis

Vitalis was Abbot of Westminster from 1076 until his death on 19th June 1085. He was buried in the south cloister of Westminster Abbey, at the foot of Abbot Gervase under a small white stone. Today nothing marks his grave. The epitaph recorded for him (translated from the Latin) was

He who derived his name from life [vita] at death's summons passed on and lies here.

Each year on the anniversary of his death a tapestry and a silken cloth were placed on his tomb with two candles burning from Vespers until the end of Requiem Mass on the following day.

John Flete, who wrote a history of the monastery, says that Vitalis was Abbot of Bernay, a cell of Fecamp in Normandy (where he was succeeded by his brother Osbern). William I appointed him to Westminster, on the advice of Archbishop Lanfranc. The King granted him the manor of Doddington in Lincolnshire. At Westminster he continued the building work there and supervised the work on the royal palace nearby. He commissioned the monk Sulcard to write a tract outlining the history of the church.

Further reading

Westminster Abbey and its People c.1050-c.1216 by Emma Mason, 1996


19th June 1085


Abbot; priest/minister


South Cloister

Abbot Vitalis
Westminster Abbey in early Norman times

Reconstruction drawing by Terry Ball 1980.

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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